Mutations in ATRX (alpha-thalassaemia and mental retardation on the X-chromosome) can give rise to ambiguous or female genitalia in XY males, implying a role for ATRX in testicular development. Studies on ATRX have mainly focused on its crucial role in brain development and α-globin regulation; however, little is known about its function in sexual differentiation and its expression in the adult testis. Here we show that the ATRX protein is present in adult human and rat testis and is expressed in the somatic cells; Sertoli, Leydig, and peritubular myoid cells, and also in germ cells; spermatogonia and early meiotic spermatocytes. The granular pattern of ATRX staining is consistent with that observed in other cell-types and suggests a role in chromatin regulation. The findings suggest that ATRX in humans may play a role in adult spermatogenesis as well as in testicular development.
Multidrug resistance P-glycoprotein (Pgp), coded by the multidrug resistance type I (MDR1/ABCB1) gene, is an energy-dependent efflux pump and functions in systemic detoxification processes. In the present study, the expression and development of Pgp were evaluated in the porcine oocyte during in vitro maturation to compare with the expression of Pgp in cultured granulosa cells. As revealed by Western blotting using anti-human Pgp antibody, a single band of Pgp with an apparent molecular size of 170 kDa was detected in the germinal vesicle stage oocytes. The surface of GV oocyte was positively labeled by immunostaining. In the second metaphase oocyte after culture in the maturation medium containing porcine follicular fluid and human chorionic gonadotropin, the level of Pgp was increased. The elevation of the oocyte Pgp level was associated with increased activity of rhodamine 6G efflux from the oocyte, and its efflux was suppressed by verapamil, an inhibitor of Pgp. Removal of porcine follicular fluid from the maturation medium resulted in little alteration of the oocyte Pgp level. Expression of Pgp was also elevated in cultured porcine granulosa cells during cell maturation when stimulated with follicle-stimulating hormone or luteinizing hormone for 24-48 h. Collectively, the present results indicate that the transporting activity of P-glycoprotein upregulates in porcine oocytes and granulosa cells during exposure to gonadotropins or prior to ovulation.
Loss of imprinting (LOI) is occasionally observed in human imprinting disorders. However, the process behind the LOI is not fully understood. To gain a better understanding, we produced embryos and pups from mouse oocytes that lacked a complete methylation imprint using a method that involved transferring the nuclei of growing oocytes into the cytoplasm of enucleated fully grown oocytes following in vitro fertilization (IVF). We then analyzed the imprinting statuses. Our findings show that the incomplete methylation imprint derived from growing oocytes results in epigenetic mosaicism or a loss of methylation imprint (LOM) at maternal alleles in embryos. In some embryos, both hypo- and hypermethylated maternal Kcnq1ot1 alleles were detected, whereas either hypo- or hypermethylated maternal Kcnq1ot1 alleles were detected in others. Such tendencies were also observed at the Igf2r and Mest loci. Gene expression levels of imprinted genes were linked with their methylation statuses in some but not all embryos. Possible explanations of the inconsistency between the data from DNA methylation and gene expression include epigenetic mosaicism in embryos. Pups were successfully produced from growing oocytes at a quite low frequency. They exhibited an obese phenotype and LOI with respect to Igf2r, Snrpn and Mest. Our finding suggests the possibility that LOI/LOM at maternal alleles in human concepti could be derived from epigenetically immature/mutated oocytes.
The survival rate of vitrified germinal vesicle (GV) stage porcine oocytes is very low, and it is not known if the vitrification damages the nucleus, cytoplasm or both. We have evaluated the eventual GV or cytoplasmic damage in fully grown (FG) and growing vitrified oocytes. Fifty-five percent of nonvitrified FG cumulus-denuded oocytes reached the metaphase II (MII) stage in culture. When growing oocytes from preantral (PA) and early antral (EA) follicles were matured in vitro, almost all oocytes were arrested at the GV stage (GV stage: PA 88.9 and EA 79.5%, respectively). When fresh GVs from FG, PA and EA oocytes were transferred into fresh enucleated FG oocytes and matured in vitro, some of them reached the MII stage (MII stage: FG/FG 57.5%, PA/FG 9.3% and EA/FG 35.3%, respectively). The maturation rate of vitrified FG oocytes was only 6.1% but increased dramatically when vitrified GVs from FG, PA and EA oocytes were transferred into fresh enucleated FG oocytes (MII stage: VitFG/FG 43.9%, VitPA/FG 7.1% and VitEA/FG 26.3%, respectively). These results were not significantly different from those for the nonvitrified groups (MII stage: FG/FG 57.5%, PA/FG 9.3% and EA/FG 35.3%, respectively). We activated the reconstructed oocytes that received fresh or vitrified GVs (FG/FG, EA/FG, VitFG/FG and VitEA/FG) and examined their embryonic development. Cleaved embryos (nonvitrified groups 13.0-61.8%, vitrified groups 33.3-40.0%) and blastocysts (nonvitrified groups 0.0-18.2%, vitrified groups 0.0-2.9%) were obtained after activation. These results demonstrate that vitrified porcine GVs maintain maturational and developmental competence and that vitrification predominantly damages the cytoplasm.
Deep intrauterine insemination in pigs allows sperm deposition only into one uterine horn, but bilateral fertilization of oocytes occurs. How the sperm reach the contralateral oviduct remains disputable. The aim of this experiment was to study possible transperitoneal and/or transuterine sperm migration ways. Follicle growth and ovulation were induced in 24 peripubertal gilts with eCG and hCG 72 h after eCG. Endoscopic intrauterine insemination (IUI) was performed 32 h after hCG with 20 ml of extended semen (60 × 106 spermatozoa) as follows: Group CONTROL (n=8) received IUI into the right horn, and the left horn served as non-treated control; Group LIGATURE (n=8) received IUI into the right horn, and the left horn was closed by endoscopic double ligature close to the bifurcation; Group INTRAPERITONEAL (IPI; n=8) received IUI into the right uterine horn, the left horn was closed by double ligature and semen was deposited intraperitoneally at the surface of the left ovary. Genital tracts were removed 65-66 h after hCG, the oviducts were flushed and ova (n=299) were analyzed for fertilization and cleavage. Furthermore, the accessory spermatozoa count/oocyte was graded as 0, without spermatozoa, 1, <5 spermatozoa, 2, 5-50 spermatozoa, 3, 50-100 spermatozoa and 4, >100 spermatozoa. The results indicate that low dose IUI into one horn provides a lower grade of accessory spermatozoa in the contra-lateral side (1.6 vs. 2.8). No spermatozoa were found in ova flushed from oviducts of the ligated uterine horn, even after intraperitoneal insemination (P<0.05), and no fertilization occurred, respectively. Our results clearly indicate that after low dose IUI into one uterine horn, spermatozoa reach the contralateral oviduct via transuterine migration.
Embryonic stem (ES) cells are expanded versions of the inner cell mass cells that compose the early mammalian blastocyst. Components derived from ES cells may contain various bioactive materials (BM) helpful for early preimplantation embryo growth. In this study, we examined the effect of human ES cell derived BM (hES-BM) on in vitro culture of bovine embryos. When bovine parthenogenetic day 2 embryos were cultured in 10% hES-BM, a significantly higher embryo development rate (44.3%) and increased cell numbers were observed relative to control medium containing 3 mg/ml BSA (19.5%; P<0.01). Among the various concentrations (5, 10 and 15%) and days of treatment (2 or 4 days) tested, 10% hES-BM treatment for 4 days provided the best culture environment to support the growth of bovine embryos in vitro (P<0.05). Little difference was observed between 10% hES-BM and 10% FBS treatment in the examined parthenogenetic or in vitro fertilized embryos, although the hES-BM group developed at a slightly better rate. However, the ICM cell numbers were significantly higher in the hES-BM group in irrespective of embryo origin (P<0.05). In addition, the relative levels of pluripotency (Oct4, × 1.8 fold; Nanog. × 3.3 fold), embryogenesis (Stat3, × 2.8 fold; FGF4, × 18.8 fold; E-cad, × 2.0 fold) and growth (Glut5, × 2.6 fold) genes were significantly higher in the 10% hES-BM group than in the 10% FBS group (P<0.05), while the levels of other genes (Bax, Bcl2, MnSOD and Connexin43) were not different. This is the first report examining the positive effects of hES-BM on bovine embryo development in vitro. Based on our results, we conclude that hES-BM can be used as a new protein supplement for bovine preimplantation embryo development.
The transition from male primitive germ cells (gonocytes) to type A spermatogonia in the neonatal testis is the initial process and a crucial process in spermatogenesis. However, in large domestic animals, the physiological and biochemical characteristics of germ cells during the developmental processes remain largely unknown. In this study, we characterized bovine germ cells in the developing testis from the neonatal stage to the adult stage. The binding of the lectin Dolichos biflorus agglutinin (DBA) and the expression of ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase 1 (UCHL1) were restricted to gonocytes in the neonatal testis and spermatogonia in the adult testis. Gonocytes also expressed a germ cell marker (VASA) and stem cell markers (NANOG and OCT3/4), while the expressions of these markers in the adult testis were restricted to differentiated spermatic cells and were rarely expressed in spermatogonia. We subsequently utilized these markers to characterize gonocytes and spermatogonia after culture in vitro. Spermatogonia that were collected from the adult testis formed colonies in vitro only for one week. On the other hand, gonocytes from the neonatal testis could proliferate and form colonies after every passage for 1.5 months in culture. These colonies retained undifferentiated states of gonocytes as confirmed by the expression of both germ cell and stem cell markers. Moreover, a transplantation assay using immunodeficient mice testes showed that long-term cultured cells derived from gonocytes were able to colonize in the recipient testis. These results indicated that bovine gonocytes could maintain germ cell and stem cell potential in vitro.
Estrogen inhibits food intake in cycling females in a variety of species. To determine how the development of the anorexic system by estrogen is regulated, rat pups at four developmental stages, postnatal day 11 (P11)-13, P20-22, P25-27 and P29-31, and adult ovariectomized (OVX) rats received a daily subcutaneous injection of 20 μg/kg of estradiol benzoate (EB) or vehicle for three days. Food intake, body weight gain and immunohistochemical c-Fos expression in the brain were measured after each injection. EB treatment decreased both food intake and body weight gain from P27 onwards and significantly increased c-Fos expression in the parvocellular division of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (pPVN), which is coincident with its anorexic effect in developing rats. The pattern of EB-induced c-Fos activation in other feeding-related nuclei did not coincide with its anorexic effect in developing pups. However, in adult OVX rats, EB treatment increased c-Fos expression in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA), and, to a lesser degree, the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH). These results suggested that the pPVN is an essential site in the brain for controlling the anorexic effect of estrogen and that the feeding system of rat begins to respond to estrogen before the onset of puberty (P25-28).
The present study investigated the basal levels and GnRH-induced responses of peripheral testosterone and estrogen in Holstein bulls with poor semen quality. On the basis of semen parameters, bulls (n=5) having poor semen quality were selected as experimental bulls, and good semen quality bulls (n=4) were used as control bulls. Both groups were treated intramuscularly once with GnRH (250 μg of fertirelin acetate). Blood samples were collected at -1 day (d), -30 min and 0 h (treatment) followed by every 30 min for 5 h and 1, 3 and 5 d post-GnRH treatment (PGT), and LH, testosterone and estradiol-17β (E2) concentrations were measured. The pretreatment concentrations were used as basal levels. The percentage increments based on the 0-h levels were calculated per bull for each sampling time until 5 h PGT, and differences were compared between the experimental and control groups. The PGT concentrations of testosterone and basal and PGT concentrations of E2 were significantly lower in the experimental group. The testosterone increment in the experimental group was delayed and significantly lower from 1 to 5 h PGT than those in the control group. It can be suggested that bulls with poor semen quality have delayed and lower GnRH-induced testosterone response and may also have lower estrogen levels.
Ketosis is found in various pathophysiological conditions, including diabetes and starvation, that are accompanied by suppression of gonadal activity. The aim of the present study was to determine the role of ketone body in the brain in regulating pulsatile luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion in female rats. Injection of 3-hydroxybutyrate (3HB), a ketone body, into the fourth cerebroventricle (4V) induced suppression of pulsatile LH secretion in a dose-dependent manner in ovariectomized (OVX) rats with an estradiol (E2) implant producing diestrus plasma E2 levels. Plasma glucose and corticosterone levels increased immediately after the 4V 3HB injection, suggesting that the treatment caused a hunger response. The 3HB-induced suppression of LH pulses might be mediated by noradrenergic inputs to the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) because a local injection of α-methyl- p-tyrosine, a catecholamine synthesis inhibitor, into the PVN blocked 3HB-induced suppression of LH pulses and PVN noradrenaline release was increased by 4V 3HB injection in E2-primed OVX rats. These results suggest that ketone body sensed by a central energy sensor in the hindbrain may suppress gonadotropin release via noradrenergic inputs to the PVN under ketosis.
The aim of this study was to investigate if reconstructed felid embryos obtained by intraspecies or intergeneric cloning can develop in vitro. Fibroblast cells (f) from a domestic cat (DCf), marbled cat (MCf) and bovine (Bf) were used as donor cells, and oocytes (o) from domestic cats (DCo) and bovine (Bo) were used as recipient cytoplasts. There were two intraspecies (donor cell + recipient cytoplast: DCf + DCo and Bf + Bo) and three intergeneric (MCf + DCo, DCf + Bo and MCf + Bo) cloning groups in the study. In Experiment 1, the effects of manipulation media, modified TCM-199 (199H) or Emcare holding medium (EHM), on in vitro development of DCf + DCo embryos were investigated. The blastocyst formation rate (BFR) of the embryos manipulated in EHM (33.3%) was higher (P<0.05) compared with those manipulated in 199H (18.1%). In Experiment 2, DCf + DCo and MCf + DCo embryos were cocultured with or without domestic cat oviductal epithelium cells. Irrespective of coculture, the same BFR was obtained for DCf + DCo embryos (44.4 vs. 38.0%), while MCf + DCo embryos could not develop beyond the morula stage. In experiment 3, although the development of MCf + DCo and DCf + Bo embryos was arrested at the morula stage, 8.6% of MCf + Bo embryos were able to develop to the blastocyst stage. These results demonstrated that EHM was superior to 199H as an embryo manipulation medium and that the DCo and Bo could support the early embryonic development of intergeneric cloned marbled cat embryos up to the morula stage. However, postimplantation development still needs to be investigated.
For the successful production of cloned animals by somatic cell nuclear transfer (NT), the epigenetic status of the differentiated donor cell is reversed to an embryonic totipotent status. However, in NT embryos, this process is aberrant, with genomic hypermethylation consistently observed. Here, we investigated the effects of silencing DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) mRNA by small interfering RNA (siRNA) on the DNA methylation status of the satellite I region and in vitro development of bovine NT embryos. First, the levels of DNMT1 expression were analyzed at 0, 24, 48, 72, 120 and 192 h after in vitro culture. Real-time PCR and western blotting analyses detected a significant decrease in DNMT1 mRNA in the siRNA-injected NT (siRNA-NT) group up to 72 h after in vitro culture. Next, the levels of DNA methylation of the satellite I region were analyzed at several time points after in vitro culture. The level of DNA methylation detected in siRNA-NT embryos was significantly less than those in NT embryos throughout in vitro development. Moreover, the developmental rate of embryos to blastocysts in the siRNA-NT group was significantly higher than that of NT embryos. Our data suggest that knockdown of DNMT1 mRNA in NT embryos can induce DNA demethylation, which may enhance reprogramming efficiency.
Previously, we showed that the exogenous expression of aquaporin 3 (AQP3), an aquaglyceroporin, improved the tolerance of mouse oocytes to vitrification with a glycerol-based solution. In the present study, we examined conditions suitable for the expression of AQP3 and the ability of vitrified oocytes to develop in vitro and in vivo after fertilization. After only partial remove of cumulus cells, immature mouse oocytes (germinal vesicle stage) were injected with 5, 10 or 20 pg of AQP3 cRNA and cultured for 12 h for maturation. When matured oocytes were vitrified with a glycerol-based solution, 57-61% survived regardless of the amount of cRNA injected (5-20 pg). By contrast, no oocytes injected with water (control) survived. When the zona pellucida was removed from the vitrified oocytes and the oocytes were then fertilized in vitro and cultured, the proportions that were fertilized and developed into blastocysts were higher when the amount of cRNA injected was 5 pg than 10-20 pg. When 16 blastocysts were transferred to a pseudopregnant mouse, 5 developed to term, demonstrating that oocytes vitrified after injection of AQP3 cRNA retained the ability to develop to term. The water-permeability of cRNA-injected oocytes was higher than that of control oocytes from the maturing stage to the 1-cell zygote stage, whereas glycerol-permeability was higher only at metaphase II. This indicates that AQP3 was expressed for a relatively short period of time. These results suggest that the transient expression of water/cryoprotectant channels is effective for cryopreserving cells that have low membrane-permeability, such as mammalian oocytes.
It has recently been shown that neurokinin B, a tachykinin, is associated with GnRH pulse generation in sheep and goats. The aim of the present study was to clarify the role of tachykinin receptors in the control of LH secretion in rats. To this end, we evaluated the effect of CS-003, an antagonist for all three neurokinin receptors (NK1, NK2 and NK3 receptors), on pulsatile LH secretion in both sexes of rats with different routes of administration. Both oral and third ventricular administration of CS-003 suppressed LH secretion in both sexes of gonadectomized animals. Furthermore, intact male rats with oral administration of CS-003 showed decreased serum testosterone levels, which might be due to suppressed LH secretion. None of the three subtype-specific neurokinin receptor antagonists showed a significant effect on LH secretion in ovariectomized rats when each antagonist was singly administered. The present results suggest that neurokinins play a role in the control of pulsatile GnRH/LH secretion via multiple neurokinin receptors in both male and female rats.
The aim of this study was to determine whether blood plasma progesterone is a reliable indicator of pregnancy in mink at an early stage of gestation. We also attempted to establish the threshold value of progesterone as a pregnancy indicator. The analysis was carried out at a production farm on 42 standard female mink aged 1 year, which were grouped both according to the observed success of mating ("mated" and "unmated") and the level of blood serum progesterone measured afterwards ("pregnant" and "nonpregnant"). It was next verified whether a particular female had been assigned to the proper group in the first place. An analysis of accuracy of mating success assessment within the group of unmated females revealed that more than one-third of decisions were wrong, since some females that had been considered unmated ultimately whelped. This suggests that mating supervision by farm workers lacks reliability. A progesterone test for verification of such management decisions should limit the risk of err,or. We suggest that progesterone tests could be carried out using the threshold values 1.9 ng/ml and 20 ng/ml in blood sampled on 25 March and 8 April, respectively, although some level of uncertainty should be taken into account.
More than 99% of follicles undergo "atresia" during follicular development and growth. Follicular atresia is predominantly regulated by granulosa cell apoptosis. However, the intracellular signaling pathway of apoptosis in granulosa cells has not been revealed. In the present study, we examined changes in the expression of BH3-interacting domain death agonist (Bid) and Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax), which are considered to promote the cell death ligand/receptor-mediated process in mitochondrion-dependent type II apoptosis, in porcine granulosa cells during atresia. Levels of mRNA and protein of Bid and Bax were determined by the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blotting techniques, respectively. Levels of Bid and Bax mRNA and protein were markedly increased in granulosa cells of early atretic follicles compared with those of healthy follicles. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical staining revealed that mRNA and protein of Bid and Bax were present in the granulosa cells, though only traces were found in healthy follicles; however, strong staining was noted in atretic follicles. These results indicate that Bid and Bax appear to be signal transduction factors in granulosa cells during follicular atresia and appear to play proapoptotic roles and confirm that the porcine granulosa cell is a mitochondrion-dependent type II apoptotic cell.
This study was designed to investigate whether freeze-dried (FD) bull spermatozoa maintained the function of the microtubule-organizing center (MTOC) after rehydration and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). In a preliminary attempt, the cleavage and blastocyst formation rates in FD-ICSI zygotes (36 and 1%, respectively) were found to be considerably lower than those in control ICSI zygotes (67 and 21%, respectively) or in IVF zygotes (78 and 43%, respectively). An alkaline comet assay indicated that the DNA fragmentation index (length of comet tail % DNA liberated) was not significantly different between fresh and FD spermatozoa. In the main experiment, formation of sperm-asters in the FD-ICSI oocytes 7 h postinsemination occurred at a similar rate when compared with the control ICSI oocytes (41 vs. 49%). Among the oocytes exhibiting sperm aster formation, the extent of microtubule network assembly was comparable between the FD-ICSI and control ICSI groups. However, the MTOC of the ICSI oocytes was not as functional as that of IVF oocytes in terms of the aster formation rate (97%) and the fluorescent intensity of the microtubule network (2.0 folds). These results suggest that the freeze-drying process per se had no adverse effect on maintaining the MTOC function in bull spermatozoa.
The aim of this study was to establish a novel method for isolating and purifying Leydig cells from mice testes. Testes of postpuberal mice were harvested and digested in a low concentration of collagenase NB4 for 15 min 2 times. Cells obtained were cultured in low glucose DMEM with 10% FBS. Immunofluorescence was used to detect the expression of Leydig cell biomarkers including 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, cholesterol side-chain cleaving enzyme (CYP11A1) and 17α-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase (CYP17A1). It was found that the purity of the isolated Leydig cells was 69.6 ± 4.16%. After 7 days in primary culture, it increased to 90%. The testosterone synthase spectrum could be detected at the primary culture. In conclusion, the application of a low concentration of collagenase for differential digestion allows isolation of large quantities of viable Leydig cells.